John of Ephesus

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JOHN OF EPHESUS (JOHN OF ASIA): Monophysite church historian of the sixth century; b. at Amida in Mesopotamia early in the sixth century; place and date of death unknown. He became deacon in Amida in 529, was in Palestine at the outbreak of the plague in 534, and from 535 was in Constantinople, where the Monophysites had a monastery near the Golden Horn. For thirty years he was a favorite of the Emperor Justinian, who from 546 employed him to combat heathenism in Asia Minor and the capital. He styles himself "the teacher" or "overseer of the heathen" and "the destroyer of idols." He is said to have converted 70,000 and to have built ninety-six churches. He was interested in the missions to the Nubians and Alodes and recommended not to trouble them with the Christological controversies. After the death of Justinian, John suffered in the persecution of the Monophysites and excused the confused state of his church history by the incidents of his life, which forced him to write it in single leaves and to keep it concealed for several years. The first two parts, each in six books, extend from Caesar to the sixth year of Justin (571); part. i. is entirely lost; a good portion of part ii. is preserved in the so called "Chronicle" of Dionysius of Telmera. The third part, containing biographies of men personally known to the writer--Jacobus Baradaeus, Severus, Theodosius, Anthimus, and others--collected about 569, is a source of first-rate importance for the time.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: The third part of the "Ecclesiastical History" was edited by W. Cureton, Oxford, 1853, Eng. transl. by P. Smith, ib. 1860; the rest of his writings were edited by J. P. N. Land, in Anecdota Syriaca, vol. ii., 4 vols., Leyden, 1862-75, and translated into Latin by W. J. van Dowen and J. P. N. Land, Amsterdam, 1889. An analysis of the second part of the "History" by F. Nau is in Revue de l'orient chretien, ii (1897), 4 sqq. Consult: J. S. Assemani, Bibliotheca orientalis, i. 359, ii. 48, 84, Rome, 1719-1728; Gregory bar Hebraeus, Chronicon ecclesiasticum, i.196; J. P. N. Land, Johannes von Ephesus, Leyden, 1856; idem, in Verslagen en Mededeelingen der Koninklijke Akademie, Letterkunde, vol. iii., part v., Amsterdam, 1888; W. Wright, Short Hist. of Syriac Literature, London, 1894; R. Duval, Literature syriaque, Paris, 1899; DCB, iii. 370-373.

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